Drug Policy

You Can Get a Ticket for That, but Only in Austin

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A Texas law that took effect in September allows police to write tickets for Class A or B misdemeanors involving less than four ounces of pot instead of arresting the offenders and hauling them to the county jail. So far only the Travis County Sheriff's Department, which lobbied for the law, has taken advantage of the ticketing option, aimed at reducing jail overcrowding, transportation costs, and demands on police time. Although their jails are equally overcrowded, Dallas, Tarrant, and Collin counties "never set up a system to process the misdemeanor citations," The Dallas Morning News reports, and "they have no plans to do so." Greg Davis, Collin County's first assistant district attorney, worries that ticketing for pot possession may "lead some people to believe that drug use is no more serious than double parking." He says "we don't want to send that message to potential drug users, particularly young people." I agree: Given the inconvenience and traffic hazard it creates, double parking is clearly worse than smoking pot.